Cedar Point Communications hopes to make IP telephony a much simpler and less costly world in which to live.

A typical, full-blown VoIP environment is comprised of a mishmash of call management servers, media gateway controllers, signal gateway and other network elements that link to the PSTN (public switched telephone network). Cedar Point's goal is to collapse most of those into one box, and, along the way, make certain it adheres to PacketCable specifications.

The closely-held Windham, N.H.-based start-up hopes to do that through what it calls a "Cable Media Switching System," a platform designed to handle both primary- and secondary line IP telephony services.

The integration of several VoIP network elements will also drive down costs, predicts Cedar Point President and CEO David Spear, noting that the company's platform is also equipped to handle both IP and circuit switched voice calls simultaneously via a single packet switch. He said the product initially is tailored for cable and will give operators that employ circuit switched services today a migration path to VoIP.

By going the Cable Media Switching route, Spear noted, operators in a large system can lower their capital costs by 60 percent to 70 percent versus a traditional circuit switched approach, and 20 percent to 30 percent compared to a distributed switching option.

Spear said Cedar Point's platform can scale to as many as 1 million subscribers, or as few as 5,000. A 2,000-subscriber system is "feasible," but it "gets closer to the economic edge," he added.

Cedar Point said plans are in place for an MSO lab trial by the end of this year, and then to move into live service trials by the second quarter of 2002.

Cedar Point has tapped a group of cable and telco veterans for its advisory board, including former AT&T Broadband Senior Vice President of Telephony Engineering & Operations Mark Dzuban, who serves as board chairman; Comcast Corp. Senior Vice President of New Media Development Steve Craddock; NBC Chief Technologist of Broadband Technology Wendell Bailey; and independent consultant Dr. Walt Ciciora, who writes a monthly column for CED.